cheating in class

Is cheating a major issue in education?

We are all aware that some cheating occurs. Naturally, there will always be students who will try to beat the system and get better grades without completing the extra work required.

You may feel that the occasional shortcut is relatively unharmful, but cheating can lead to challenging consequences when it becomes part of a setting’s culture. Indeed, it can affect wider society as well as individual institutions.

We wondered if cheating was a significant problem and investigated the depth of the issue.

What is cheating?

Cheating can take on many forms. It usually involves a student presenting a piece of work that is not theirs. They may have paid another student or copied another student to write an assignment on their behalf. Sometimes, a student may have gained access to exam questions in advance.

Whatever method is used, it means that students who work hard and rely on their own merits are put at a disadvantage to the cheaters.

Statistics show that in the US, cheating among high school students has risen. 86% of high school students say they think most people have cheated at some point.

What is the impact of cheating?

If exam results are to be trusted, they must accurately reflect learning and attainment.

Cheating casts doubt on the integrity of those results, which will negatively impact those students who have achieved highly. Ultimately, it will lead to resentment and be demoralising for those who take an honest approach.

More importantly, cheating often means that adequate learning has not taken place. Cheaters will be unprepared for university or the workplace if they have been able to avoid appropriate study by cheating.

Cheaters are more likely to struggle in their onward studies and have missed the opportunity to develop their study skills. Their gaps in knowledge may also affect their future progress.

On a broader scale, cheating can affect the reputation of a school or university. If left unchecked, it may lead accreditors and moderators to call results into question and question leadership.

Future employers rely on certain standards when deciding whether to interview potential candidates. Failure to eliminate cheating will result in employers feeling shortchanged by underperforming employees.

How can a school or university reduce cheating?

Proctoring or supervision is the ideal way to reduce opportunities for cheating.

Traditionally, proctoring involves a human supervisor keeping surveillance in an exam room and ensuring no obvious cheating occurs.

Technology now plays a large part in proctoring with tools such as video surveillance, digital screen recording and detection software to keep students on the exam screen.

Of course, technology also provides opportunities for cheating, meaning that students should not be allowed personal devices in exam rooms.

Online courses are particularly vulnerable to cheating, but using proctoring tools significantly reduces the opportunities for dishonest behaviours.

One of the untested ways that will affect the amount of future cheating is the increasing use of AI. Education is only just beginning to understand how to identify AI plagiarism, where AI is used to write assignments.

However, with AI constantly adapting, it will be a mammoth task for educators and the government to keep up with potential problems.

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